What Writing Advice Would You Give To Your Older Self?

Dear older, hopefully wiser Herminia,

I know you can be your biggest critic. But I hope you will also be your biggest cheerleader.

When you’re having a bad day, don’t forget to look back and remember the good ones.

Celebrate your victories, however small they may be. Every acceptance. Every congratulations. Every publication.

You’ll hear no all the time. Don’t get discouraged. Continue with all the energy and enthusiasm you had when you first started.

Stay hungry figuratively.

Never settle. Never rest on your laurels. Never make excuses for anything within your control.

Change what you can. Let go of what you can’t. 

You can’t perfect every aspect of writing. So don’t aim for perfection. 

As good as you get, you can always get better. So keep improving and learning. 

Learn from the best. Use what does work. Learn from the worst. Discard what doesn’t work.

Cherish the moment. You may never have another one like it.

Have fun. You’ll probably work hard. Too hard sometimes. You don’t want to be on your deathbed wishing you worked less and partied more.

But you might still hate parties even when you’re older. If that’s the case, work less and read more. Or write more. Dance more. Or whatever it is you love then.

It doesn’t matter what people think. What they say or don’t say. This is your life. At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with your own thoughts. With all you’ve said and done.

Look in the mirror and smile at the girl in the reflection more.

Smile. Be happy. Laugh. Stay positive.

Remember in this industry, 99.9 percent of the time, nothing is personal. It’s business.

People are busy. You may not hear back from an agent or editor. They have a life. They weren’t meant to be in yours.

You’ll find a home for your story. Somewhere. Someday. When you’re ready and when your story is too.

On the topic of readiness, you can’t be ready for everything that life throws at you. That’s okay. Roll with the punches. And punch right back. Not literally. Violence, as you well know, isn’t the answer. It doesn’t solve the problem. Violence makes things worse. Creates more problems.

Keep going. Keep grinding. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A novel isn’t written in one either.

The road to publication is fraught with obstacles and setbacks. But when you reach the end, you’ll realize all your hard work was worth it.

And where one road ends, another begins. When one door closes, another opens.

How does that saying go again? You need to practice for 10,000 hours before you master a skill. Before you’re any good. You’ll never master the skill of writing. You can’t perfect writing. No matter how long you work or how much you write. As for how long it takes before you’re any good, as long as you need.

It might be five years. Two decades. Half a century.

Go at your own pace. Take your time. There’s no need to rush.

The journey is long. Whoever you are right now, wherever you stand, make the most of it. You might not be who you want to be or where you want to be. But you’ll get there.

Sincerely,

Younger, awfully dumber Herminia

Gold Medal | A Poem

Don’t lose sight of that vision in your head

Sometimes that’s all you have

You know what you want

You dictate what you chase

And the things that fall away

You give power to what matters

Can’t spend the rest of your life

Worrying over what could’ve been

So work to make it happen

Remember never settle

Stay thirsty

Hungry for the gold medal

But that’s not the reason why

You put yourself in the firing line

You do this for the right reasons

For the little girl who survived

Advice For Aspiring Writers 

I love giving bad writing advice. 

  • When you want to quit, remember why you started.
  • You don’t have to get your story right the first time. Or the fifteenth.
  • Your piece should be as long as it needs to be. No more. No less.
  • Read what you want, when you want, where you want. Just read something.
  • Write often. Even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Turn off your inner critic while writing. Turn on the critic while editing. 
  • Let that idea in your head make it into the paper. A bad page is better than a blank one. 
  • Have fun with the first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. First drafts are supposed to suck. Editing exists for a reason.
  • Get better and better with every failure. Not trying is worse than failing.
  • Adjust. Change what doesn’t work. Improve what does.
  • Stop worrying. You’re wasting time you’ll never get back.
  • Make the most of what you have. Even and especially when you don’t have much. 
  • Keep learning. Don’t ever stop learning.
  • Live your life. Then relive your life through writing. 
  • Never settle for anything less than your best. Why do anything if you aren’t going to give it your all?

I also love soliciting good writing advice.

Get To Know The Blogger

You get to know a certain blogger a little bit better.

Why did you start blogging?

Because the yearbook team at my high school rejected me. So I had a lot of free time after school. Lo and behold, one day I was bored and started a blog.

What do you blog about?

Anything and everything I want. Blogging is something I started doing for myself. And I don’t want that to ever change. I’m going to keep writing about the things I’m passionate about. The answer I usually give people when they ask is something along the lines of I blog about blogging and writing and reading. Boring, right?

When do you like to blog?

I tend to blog at night when my brain isn’t as critical and cynical. In the morning, I’m not the easiest person to be around to say the least. My inner critic rears her ugly head all the time. But she isn’t as annoying later in the day. I think she gets tired and heads to bed.

Where do you prefer to blog?

My bed. Somewhere comfortable is ideal. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a perfect world, so I can’t have the luxury of blogging in my pajamas all the time. Guess you really can’t have everything in life.

Why are you still blogging?

If I didn’t, I’d have a gaping hole in my heart.

How do you keep blogging?

I write. I edit drafts. I publish posts. All because I need my heart to be somewhat intact.

What’s your blogging routine like?

I think about blogging almost every hour of every day. On any given day, I probably blog for a lot less than sixty minutes. I just make myself type words. Delete them. Type more. Delete a little. And when I’m done, I publish the mess I’ve created for everyone to read. Not many people do.

Did you enjoy getting to know me a bit better as a blogger? Either way, I have more blogging questions I want to answer. Maybe I’ll get around to them some day.

Confessions Of A Reader

I confess my reading habits, so you can read my confessions.

  • I don’t always feel like reading. I love a good story as much as the next person. But when I’m mentally exhausted and my eyes are struggling to stay open, I’d prefer to do something that requires less effort on my end. I’m a sensitive person in every regard, my eyes are no exception. 
  • I haven’t read Harry Potter. Ditto for a lot of other popular novels. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on why I haven’t read HP. Long story short, I blame J.K. Rowling for everyone and their dog butchering my name (Herminia).
  • I try to avoid eBooks or audiobooks. Books are great, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about the physical copy of a novel that I love. And screen fatigue is a real problem. Also, listening to a story isn’t the same as reading it. I grew up being able to hold a book in my hands and smelling it, turning the pages. I want to grow old doing that too. Imagine me as a old woman with gray hair and bad eyes, squinting at tiny words on pieces of paper.

Confess away if you have anything you need to get off your chest. I promise not to pass judgement.

Every Last Lie | A Book Review

Title: Every Last Lie

Author: Mary Kubica

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

About the book: It’s a suspenseful standalone novel. I received an advanced reader’s copy from Goodreads.

First impressions: I was excited to say the least. Even before starting the story, it seemed right up my alley. I liked the design on the front cover as well as the blurb on the back cover. 

Summary: Clara’s husband, Nick, dies in a car crash, and she’s left to figure out what actually happened.

Characters: I liked Nick more than Clara, even through she’s the protagonist. I didn’t have a problem with her early on. In fact, I felt awful for Clara. However, in my opinion, she becomes more and more unlikeable as the story progresses. Her actions in the end caught me off guard but not in a good way. I get that she’s dealing with grief, yet I felt greater sympathy towards Nick who isn’t perfect by any means either. I could just relate to him a little bit better.

Quote:

“My knees buckle for one quick moment, and just like that we’re eighteen years old again, wild and reckless, living only for the moment, not caring about what tomorrow may bring.”

Conflict: Clara begins to think Nick’s death wasn’t an accident, so she starts hunting for the truth only to discover people haven’t been entirely honest with her.

Writing: It’s told in alternating perspectives between Nick before the crash and Clara after it. I also found myself surprised at the longer length of some sentences, especially considering the book is supposed to be a fast-paced thriller. The chapters were relatively short though. Overall, the dialogue and description worked well to establish a pace that picked up as the novel went on.

Final thoughts: I think Kubica did a fine job building up suspense. That’s why I thought the story would lead up to a bigger revelation. But it didn’t. Every Last Lie ended differently than I expected. This book isn’t your typical whodunit story. Although I can see people being spilt on the ending, I’d still recommend it if you’re a fan of mysteries or thrillers that deal with grief.

This post has affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

How To Be A Productive Writer

You’re probably a productive writer. At least more productive than the person writing this blog post. So why am I telling you how to get work done? Because I can.

Have a plan.

If you don’t know what you want to do, how are you supposed to accomplish anything? So decide the night before what you’re going to write tomorrow. Maybe it’s a poem or a short story. You can also take a few minutes in the morning to think about the tasks you’re hoping to complete before the day is over. Edit a chapter of your novel. Make a graphic for that blog post. You get the idea. Then get to work. 

Include tiny rewards.

Reward yourself after you write a page or edit a scene, not before. That way you have motivation to do stuff and get things done.

Take many breaks.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it isn’t. Your brain needs rest. Just don’t let that small break turn into a long spell of inactivity.

Stop procrastinating and start working.

Crowded | A Short Story

The girl fingered the edge of her black shirt. She watched as people gathered around. The crowd grew larger with each passing minute; however, she didn’t walk any closer and no one paid her any attention.

Everyone else began cheering or clapping. There were shouts and screams. The girl on the periphery had her mouth drawn in a tight line while her hands stayed by her side.

She started to walk away. Her feet carried her in the opposite direction, away from the crowd. Nevertheless, the loud cheers reached her ears.

Walking faster, she nearly tripped over a crack in the ground. But the girl stayed upright.

But her fingers still clutched the edge of her shirt.

Her fingers hurt.

Confessions Of A Blogger

4 years of being a blogger means I have a lot to confess. So here goes…

I’ve never reblogged a post.

I wanted to publish my own, original content way back when I first started. And I’ve stuck by that ever since. So I probably won’t reblog anything ever.

I used to follow everyone who followed me.

I stopped after the first few months. Now I rarely follow anyone. With blogging, I’m extreme when it comes to everything. There’s just no in between.

I wanted to quit from time to time. 

I have no intentions to stop posting right now. Besides, I’d give up a lot before I’d give up blogging.

Confessing is liberating.

How Far She’s Come | A Poem

I won’t forget about the girl who cried

Buried her face in a pillow

So that it would muffle every sound

Even the silent screams

And loud whispers

Because she won’t forget

Biting down on her tongue

Keeping her mouth shut, lips sealed

Never uttering an unsettling word

Her hand used to clutch a tissue

Before her nails found skin and dug in

Dark hair fell in front of darker eyes

Hardened by night storms

But as night gave way to day

Her body did the same

Wiped the tears, dried the eyes

Plastered on a smile, put on a show

This is a stage she’s always known

But the curtain’s closed

She can walk away and never come back

Yet I won’t let her forget how far she’s come